Robert Fulton School’s Technology teacher Theresa Iannantuano debuted her first book at The North Bergen Free Public Library on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The reading for “Who Took My Lunch?” was followed by a quiz for the children, who were entertained with the “Peanut Butter and Jelly” song by surprise guest Skippy The Squirrel, a character from the book portrayed by a hand puppet.
The story was inspired, she said, by her daughter Alexa when she was in the second grade, and her three cousins. A portion of the $16 book sales will benefit the North Bergen Food and Coat Drive.
Alexa, the main character, is currently 18-years-old. According to Theresa, her husband Jaime would make Alexa peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and she would often wonder what it would be like if someone took her lunch.
In the book, Alexa and her three cousins, Joey, Nikki, and Tiara go on an adventure to try to find the culprit who keeps taking her lunch.
“The four of them always got along and would always have fun at family get togethers, so I figured I’d use her three cousins as the other characters in the story, since Alexa was always able to relate to them,” said Theresa.
“It was because of them I was able to donate $140 worth of coats and non-perishable food to the needy.” – Theresa Iannantuano
“My husband Jaime is a great artist, and he brought the characters to life through cartoon characters,” said Theresa. “I didn’t want him to use perfect looking pictures, so I asked him to sketch Alexa, his nieces and nephew as he saw them.”
Theresa thanked her daughters Carissa and Alexa for making her book possible; her husband for the illustrations; her family and friends; Mayor Nicholas Sacco; the Township of North Bergen; the North Bergen Free Public Library; Library Board of Trustees; Library Director Sai Rao; Children’s Department Librarian Krista Welz; Horace Mann Music teacher Melissa Welz; Franklin School Music teacher Dr. Armine Irving; fellow teachers; literary mentor Steve Ludwig; Robert Fulton Principal Noreen Garcia; administrators; and students and supporters.
Franklin School’s Music teacher Dr. Irving said she bought “Who Took My Lunch?” and read it and found it was a very cute story.
Giving back to the community
Theresa’s initial idea was to give a portion of the proceeds of her book sales to the Township of North Bergen Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort which was changed to the North Bergen Food and Coat Drive after she spoke with town clerk Erin Barillas. She informed Theresa that there were not many families affected by the hurricane’s destruction but there was a need in the community during this time of the year for warm coats and non-perishable foods for the food and coat drive. Donations will be accepted through Dec. 14 for the North Bergen Food and Coat Drive. For updates visit the township website at www.northbergen.org.
Theresa raised $140 from a portion of the book proceeds. With the money she purchased winter coats along with non-perishable foods that will be collected by the North Bergen Employee Charity. She will drop off the donations at Town Hall sometime next week to support the cause and to be given to needy families within the community.
“Although I don’t live in town anymore; as a teacher, I still feel a need to give back to my community where I work,” said Theresa. “After seeing the destruction of the hurricane, I felt I had to do something, but I wasn’t sure what I was able to do aside from donating $10 to the American Red Cross. We [Theresa’s family] thought it would be a great opportunity to collect money the night of my book launch and make a difference for a few families that are in need.”
Theresa thanked everyone who attended for making donations to the food and coat drive possible.
“It was because of them I was able to donate $140 worth of coats and non-perishable food to the needy,” said Theresa.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org